'The ultimate in immersive fiction . . . magnificent' Sunday Times
'Highly readable, entirely engaging and frequently funny' Observer
'Perfectly pitched . . . A deft and resonant alchemy of fact and fiction, of literary myth and imagination' Guardian Book of the Week
Around the turn of the twentieth century young pianist Brodie Moncur quits Edinburgh's slate skies for the lights of Paris, his preacher father's words of denunciation ringing in his ears. There he joins forces with the fiery Irish virtuoso John Kilbarron and together the pair take Europe by storm.
But when he falls for Kilbarron's lover - the mesmerizing Russian soprano Lika Blum - Brodie quickly realizes that the tide has turned and he must flee across a continent, haunted by his love for Lika, and pursued by the vengeful wrath of his rival.
'A giddying read . . . his most immersive historical novel to date' Daily Telegraph
'Elegant and affecting. A racing fin-de-siècle romance' The Times
'Boyd's talents as a rollicking storytelling [are] full on display in this historical blockbuster' Metro
Boyd's lively 15th novel (following Sweet Caress) careens across the world following a consumptive, dueling, romantic piano tuner named Brodie Moncur. In a wild story whose prose reads as if written in 1888 (the year in which it is set), this seasoned author's handsome protagonist flees his oppressive Scottish family, first to Edinburgh, where he goes to work for Channon & Co. Sent to Paris by his boss, Ainsley Channon, to boost piano sales, Brodie's career is sabotaged by Channon's thieving son, Calder. Brodie is then approached by pianist John Kilbarron, the "Irish Liszt," and Kilbarron's evil brother, Malachi, who convince him to travel with them to Russia, having discovered he can tune Kilbarron's piano to mask a painful weakness in the maestro's right hand. As time goes on, however, Brodie falls in love with Kilbarron's mistress, Russian singer Lika Blum. When their affair, Lika's secretiveness, and a musical betrayal stir up trouble, Brodie flees the Kilbarrons and Russia. Complicating matters is Brodie's tuberculosis, a constant threat that dials up the book's tension and, along with an old-fashioned duel in St. Petersburg, allows the author a few action scenes. This man-on-the-run tale, which wraps up at one exotic end of the Earth, is strangely ageless and very entertaining.
Boyd at his finest
Wonderful book, vivid description of the turn of the century.
A wonderful read
A simply fabulous read. Beautifully written and with a plot to match. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Up there with the best of them. A classic. Already recommended to three discerning friends.